Webb Yates Engineers worked in collaboration with Hopkins Architects to design over 50 shading structures on a small but visible site for the Expo 2020 in Dubai. The shading structures will line the main streets of the Expo for the three districts and provide shade during the day, light at night and form a sculptural feature for the Expo and beyond.
The structures are formed by suspending a thin steel cable-net from a steel mast and pulling it tight to the base. From this net, thin perforated aluminium panels are hung, carefully balanced to follow the shape of the net, and form the shading element of the structure. These panels are free to pivot around the cable they are hung from in the wind, cleverly shedding wind and creating a beautifully active rippling sculpture.
To generate the shape of the cable net, we used parametric modelling to generate the required catenary curves that met the Architects aspirations and then fine-tuned it with form-finding analysis to settle on an elegant yet structurally robust shape. The individual panels with their balanced geometry and pseudo-random perforation pattern was also calculated parametrically and drawn up as a detailed 3D Revit model.